Odds and Ends

Boy Scouts turned Minutemen, er boys; FCC at your doorstep and the Fear and Loathing Board Game

Is it a full moon? I don’t know. It’s raining too much.

Anywho, I’ve come across some outrageous national articles lately I just had to share. I’m not sure if I missed all this stuff when I was working, or the world is just getting crazier. Probably both.

First, earlier this month, the New York Times reported on the less-publicized brother of the Boy Scouts of America: the Explorers!

Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.

The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.

“United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!” screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued.

It is all quite a step up from the square knot.

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

Explorer simulations, the article goes on to explain, include chasing illegal immigrants crossing the border and raiding marijuana farms. I bet the whole thing is pretty fun for the kids, except for the occassional sexual abuse.

Speaking of abuse, the FCC is on another one of their ego-trips about unlicensed radio stations. But a recent attempt to shut down Radio Free Boulder, Wired magazine reports, brought up some constitutional questions about how far the FCC can go in detecting interfering radio signals. Here’s a snippet:

You may not know it, but if you have a wireless router, a cordless phone, remote car-door opener, baby monitor or cellphone in your house, the FCC claims the right to enter your home without a warrant at any time of the day or night in order to inspect it.

That’s the upshot of the rules the agency has followed for years to monitor licensed television and radio stations, and to crack down on pirate radio broadcasters. And the commission maintains the same policy applies to any licensed or unlicensed radio-frequency device.

“Anything using RF energy — we have the right to inspect it to make sure it is not causing interference,” says FCC spokesman David Fiske. That includes devices like Wi-Fi routers that use unlicensed spectrum, Fiske says.

Quick, hide the baby monitor!

Finally, a 23-year-old designer in L.A. has conceived the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas board game. You knew it was coming, folks. I’d say this is weirder than a seven-legged cow, but hell, that’s not even weird these days.